Regalii Startup Enables Easier Money Transfer to Immigrant Families Outside US
Sending money to loved ones in another country can be a hassle and a process for many, but one startup from Washington Heights is changing that method.
For Edrizio De La Cruz, traditional remittance isn't making sense right now. He wants to change the current process of sending money to family and friends, and as a result, created Regalii.
According to De La Cruz, Regalii came up from personal experiences. He grew up in the Dominican Republic before coming to the United States (U.S.) at 11 years sold.
"Once I came here, my mom always sent money back home to my grandma and my aunt. They basically raised me," said De La Cruz. "I really felt like I owned them everything, so every time we sent money back, it was a big hassle for them, to pick up the money, go to an agency, wait on long lines, fill out long forms, put cash in their pockets."
De La Cruz noted, as many families sending money back home would understand, the process can be "cumbersome, expensive, and very dangerous," citing his neighborhood in the Dominican Republic as an example.
"I noticed that most of the money was spent on food and bills. I said to myself, 'Why not be able to prepay the bills directly from the comfort of my own home,' and that basically is what Regalii is, it allows you to prepay food and bills for your family in Latin America, or at least in the Dominican Republic, directly from your cellphone or your computer."
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Currently, Regalii allows consumers to transfer money from their credit card or PayPal account and insert the recipient's name and telephone number. With a $3 transfer fee, the recipient will receive a PIN with the money the consumer paid. The recipient is allowed to use the paid amount at supermarkets that have partnered with Regalii. Regalii has partnered with several supermarkets including La Cadena and Yoma in the Dominican cities Santo Domingo and San Francisco de Macoris
De La Cruz stated it was tough to initiate a partnership with the supermarkets.
"First thing that we did is we started doing the utilities, allowing people to prepay their cellphones and cable, electricity, gas, water," he said. "After we built a customer base from that, we built enough traction [and] markets were able to take a chance on us cause it felt like if they can sell one thing, they can sell another thing."
It was a long journey to establish Regalii, said De La Cruz, but since May 2013, the service went from zero to over 21,000 customers. He added a mobile app is in the works for late summer.
"To me, it's like what the iPod did for music. You don't see any cassette tapes or even CDs now," noted De La Cruz, adding, "Regalii is ahead of the curve when it comes to enabling you to support families."
For De La Cruz, he wants to continue spreading Regalii's service throughout the Dominican Republic but plans to step into Mexico by the second quarter of 2015.
Regalii's efforts have been recognized with a grant and sponsorship from the Chilean government courtesy of Startup Chile, an Echoing Green Fellowship, and the Wharton Program for Social Impact. Regalii was also present at TechCrunch's Disrupt conference in San Francisco in 2013.
To start using Regalii, click here.
Regalii Startup Pitch at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013:
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